April 16/23, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 22
By Steven Feldman
When I took over this column from FCNews founder Al Wahnon more than seven years ago, I promised that the subject matter would from time to time go beyond the world of flooring, because, after all, our lives transcend this industry. This is one of those times, because something has been on my mind for quite some time. Controversial? Maybe. So strap in, kids.
I have a friend in Florida whose daughter attends Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a.k.a. Parkland. Good kid. When the gunman fired his shots, by the grace of God she was on the other side of the campus. Had the incident occurred one day earlier or one day later, she would have been sitting in that ill-fated class where 17 people died, 14 were wounded and countless others scarred for life. Film production one day, geography the next. As winter turned to spring, this 15-year-old girl was attending the funerals of her favorite teacher and a bunch of close friends. It’s a fresh wound that will at best become an ugly scar.
Columbine. Sandy Hook. Parkland. Mourn, rage, repeat. Each time it brings the gun control debate front and center. I am not here to debate the issue. Of course, there is no reason for your average citizen to get his hands on an AR-15. On the other hand, if someone is insane to the degree that he will stroll into a school and start shooting at innocent children, telling him it is illegal to possess this type of weapon is no deterrent.
Nearly 20 years ago, comedian Chris Rock joked, “You don’t need no gun control. You know what you need? We need some bullet control. I think all bullets should cost $5,000. $5,000 for a bullet. You know why? Because if a bullet costs $5,000, there’d be no more innocent bystanders.”
It’s a great riff, one former New York senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was dead serious about. After passing a bill banning so-called “cop-killer” bullets, it hit Moynihan that there was no constitutional obstacle to regulating, taxing or banning ammunition. Guns, like nuclear waste, remain potent, while bullets expire after a single use and can only be stored for a few years.
Moynihan pushed bullet-control laws for years without ever quite passing them, but putting the heat on ammo makers won results. Days after he proposed a tax that would raise the price of one sort of bullet from $20 a box to $2,000, the manufacturer announced it would stop selling them to the public.
Right now, most bullets are cheaper than cigarettes. Anyone with a credit card can order 1,000 .223 rounds for their AR-15 killing machines for less than $50—or less than $10 for the 150 shots that ended 17 lives in Florida — and have them shipped most anywhere in America with no questions asked.
In 1993, Senator Moynihan proposed that we should give up on gun control as a way to reduce criminal violence. He proposed a tax on bullets. But he proposed a “Ten thousand percent” tax on hollow-tipped bullets. The result, a 20-bullet pack would cost $1,500. It didn’t happen, but maybe it should have.
Yes, there are background checks for guns. Yes, people can bypass that background check by buying a gun from someone at a gun show. But, logically, having more guns won’t make someone more dangerous. If you have a gun and no bullets, the gun is just for show. If you have a single gun and over 50 bullets, you could be a danger to the public.
People can petition for better gun control all they want, but guns are merely a tool while the real killer is the bullet, which is as easy to purchase as Band-Aids.